Nearly every article or advice on writing includes some form of admonishment that a writer should set a daily or weekly goal to write X number of words. This, of course, makes perfect sense. Muscle memory, habit, practice, all the right exercises as one develops and grows in their chosen venue. Swimmers swim laps, runners run miles, and writers should write words.
So, what is a good daily writing goal?
In my day job, I spend a significant portion writing. A combination of documents and emails. For a couple of weeks, I gathered up all the documents and emails together, extracted them, and tossed them into a tool to count the words. I write between 700 to 3,000 words a day, averaging 1,700 throughout a couple of weeks.
As for how much fiction writing I do in a given week, let’s just put down 200 words a week for the last few weeks. I honestly have not yet been able to get into a rhythm yet. I need to, but you know, reasons.
I have real metrics from history
In my original novel folder, I found my progress tracking spreadsheet from 2006. Holy crap, I cannot believe how anal I was in tracking things back then. Words per day, projections, time spent writing and editing. I had my novel schedule all planned out, I was on top of it! Between November 29th, 2005, and January 3rd, 2006 I wrote an average of 1310 words per day for a total of 47,171 words. With a targeted novel of 90,000 words, I was scheduled to be completed with the first draft by Sunday, February 5, 2006. As of Jan 3rd, I had 32.69 days to go.
There is no way, on this great green planet, that I will track my progress like that again. Nope, Not happening. Thankfully, my current writing tool of choice, Scrivener, tracks enough stats that I will be able to know if I’m writing to meet goals.
But all writing is not the same
Burning a few gray cells on this concept, I figure that what I need to do is define a specific goal for fiction writing. The creative energies and thinking needed for my work writing are different than the thinking patterns for this blog. When I am writing fiction, that feels very different too.
I’m not going to set a goal for how many words I write for my job, I write what I need to write to meet those demands. For my blog posts, I have a general target for each post to be between 600 to 1,500 words.
By the way, there is a very interesting article and an even more interesting comment thread on the Marketing Insider Group site on How Many Words Should a Blog Post Be?
Setting a new daily writing goal for writing fiction
My headspace is entirely different when I’m writing fiction. I’m thinking about plots and twists, character development. I have my characters arguing with each other and with me in my head. None of those energies are present in blog or job writing.
Therefore, I need to set down, get my butt in gear, and set a realistic goal to dedicate time for writing fiction and working on my first novel. I need to develop muscle memory and a bloody good discipline. The sad part for me, is I love being in the fiction writing headspace and I haven’t made it the priority it needs to be.
God, give me the strength to change the things I can, the wisdom to do the ‘write’ thing, and the dexterity to kick my butt when I don’t.
Feel free to leave a comment below. If you are a writer, how did you get to your daily or weekly goal or any other thoughts about setting daily writing goals.